Drive S.A.F.E. this summer!

Follow the S.A.F.E. driving acronym when you're behind the wheel.

'S' is for seat belts. Be sure everyone in the car is buckled up. Seat belts keep the driver from slamming into the steering wheel or windshield following a crash. They also prevent occupants from being tossed inside the car, or even thrown out. Illinois is a primary enforcement state when it comes to seat belts. Motorists can be pulled over for not properly buckling up.

'A' is for automobile maintenance. Examine, inflate, rotate and balance tires periodically. Replace those with insufficient tread. Look at headlights, tail lights, brake lights and blinkers. Install new bulbs as needed. Confirm air and fuel filters, belts and hoses are in good shape. Be sure radiator, batter and oil fluid levels are adequate. Top off wiper fluid frequently and get new windshield wipers when necessary.

'F' is for focus. Driving is a complex skill. Pay attention the roadway and focus on the task at hand. The cell phone is an obvious distraction. Illinois allows hands-free cell phones in certain areas, but this feature does not eliminate driver distraction. Adjusting music, reaching for an object, dealing with children, gazing at scenery, eating and drinking are also activities that take the driver's attention off the roadway. Make a conscious decision to reduce distractions and drive with focus.

'E' is for expectations. Defensive drivers are aware of their surroundings. Stay alert. Use turn signals. Put a safe distance between your vehicle and other cars. Adjust speed to changing road conditions. Obey the rules of the road. Keep emotion and ego out of the driver's seat.